Canada Municipality of Argyle warden worried about safety of residents amid ongoing fishery tensions
Federal government rejects lobster quota for commercial inshore fleet
The Trudeau government says it will not impose a quota on the Atlantic Canadian commercial inshore lobster fishery, rejecting a proposal floated by several Mi'kmaw leaders. Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan issued a statement Friday after meeting with commercial fishermen the day before. "As confirmed in that meeting, there is no plan to move to a quota system for the commercial lobster fishery and it is not being considered,"Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan issued a statement Friday after meeting with commercial fishermen the day before.
The warden of the Municipality of Argyle says he's worried about the safety of residents after a suspicious fire destroyed a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., early Saturday, amid ongoing tensions between commercial fishermen and Mi'kmaw fishers.
"When violence like that happens, it doesn't always just mean property," Danny Muise told Radio-Canada on Sunday morning.
Trudeau defends federal response as threats escalate over Mi'kmaw fishery in Nova Scotia
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the federal government's response to an escalating standoff over a Mi'kmaw fishery in Nova Scotia, saying Ottawa has been "extremely active" in trying to resolve the situation. Speaking to reporters Friday, he called for an end to the violence and harassment that has been on the rise over the past week in several fishing communities in the southwestern part of the province. "We are expecting the RCMP andSpeaking to reporters Friday, he called for an end to the violence and harassment that has been on the rise over the past week in several fishing communities in the southwestern part of the province.
"One of these days, something tragic is going to happen because the tension is getting worse and worse as it goes on, and as long as it goes on, you have to be more and more concerned about the safety of the residents."
The fire in Middle West Pubnicoraided and vandalized by commercial fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia earlier this week protesting the "moderate livelihood" fishery . Mi'kmaw fishers were storing their catches at the facilities.
Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said on Saturday morning that the fire in Middle West Pubnico was "very bad news to wake up to." He reiterated"to step in and make sure safety is ensured."
RCMP are letting Mi'kmaw fishermen down, says minister, after violence over lobster catches
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the Mi'kmaw fishermen in Nova Scotia have been "let down by police," following increasing violence in the southwest part of the province over the Sipekne'katik band's fishery. "We must also recognize that once again, as evidenced by the scenes of violence, Indigenous people have been let down by the police. Those who are sworn to protect them," he said during a news conference in Ottawa on Monday morning.
Later Saturday, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair confirmed that he approved a request to increase RCMP resources "as needed in that jurisdiction in order to keep the peace," amidto protect community members.
Provincial RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce told CBC News on Sunday that there is now an increased police presence in southwestern Nova Scotia, including an emergency response team, a critical incident command team and officers from Prince Edward Island who are trained in de-escalation and crowd control.
Sack said he is "grateful" for the extra officers.
"While I believe some of the damage, destruction, racist behaviour, harassment and intimidation could have been addressed much earlier as we had repeatedly requested a greater police presence to protect our people and operations, we remain thankful for any and all support we receive," he said in a statement Saturday evening.
As Ottawa commits to protect treaty rights, Sipekne’katik chief says ‘actions speak louder than words’
More is necessary to ensure treaty rights are being protected, said Chief Michael Sack."Actions speak louder than words," said Chief Michael Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation on Monday.
Tensions over fishing rights
Tensions have been simmering for weeks in the province's southwest, sparked by the launch of the Mi'kmaw fishery outside the federally mandated commercial season — 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case of Donald Marshall Jr.
The landmark decision affirmed the Mi'kmaw right to earn a "moderate livelihood" from fishing. The court later said the federal government could regulate the Mi'kmaw fishery but must justify any restrictions it placed on it.
WATCH | Fire engulfs lobster pound:
Many commercial lobster fishermen say they consider the new Sipekne'katik fishery in St. Marys Bay illegal and worry that catching lobster outside the mandated season, particularly during the summer spawning period, will negatively impact stocks.
Sipekne'katik officials have said the amount of lobster that will be harvested and sold is tiny compared with what's caught during the commercial season, which begins in late November and runs until the end of May.
They say the fishery was launched after the band was unable to find common ground with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the definition of "moderate livelihood."
Five things to know about the dispute over Nova Scotia's Indigenous lobster fishery
HALIFAX — Tensions remain high in the dispute over the Indigenous lobster fishery in Nova Scotia. Here are five things to know about the situation. 1. The dispute has a long history. In September 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy bands in Eastern Canada to hunt, fish and gather to earn a "moderate livelihood." The court decided that a Mi'kmaq fisherman from Cape Breton, Donald Marshall Jr., had the right to fish for eels and sell them when and where he wanted — without a licence.
"This has been going on for 21 years and they've never been able to ... tell us what a moderate livelihood means," Muise said.
Calls on Ottawa to find a solution
Muise joins other groups and people — including the Sipekne'katik First Nation, commercial fishers, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and opposition parties — who are calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to properly define a "moderate livelihood."
In an interview with CBC News on Sunday morning, Sack said he is optimistic that an increased police presence will help ease tensions, but he's anxious to resolve the situation through discussions with the federal government and commercial fishers.
"I think that their concern for the fishery would have to take place with the government as well," Sack said.
"And we're willing to help bring them up to speed where our plan is at and how it would look and to help them understand our treaty right to be here.... Anyone that is willing to hear our story and learn from us and vice versa, we're willing to do that."
RoseAnne Comeau, who lives in the Middle West Pubnico area, said the increased number of RCMP officers is a welcome sight.
"It is very unsafe for the people. I mean, this fire that broke out, it was close to the houses and anything could have happened," she said Sunday. "We never slept. I don't live far from here and we could hear the boom, like there were two booms, and I knew [there] was something going on."
Comeau said she wasn't surprised by the fire, and she hopes the police in the area will help quiet the situation.
"We don't want this to happen. They have to settle this once and for all."
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